Telstra on Monday opened an innovation centre where it will test next-generation mobile technologies in Australian conditions to support the early commercial deployment of 5G services across the country.
The centre is central to a $60 million investment Telstra is making to upgrade infrastructure on the Gold Coast. It is part of $5 billion the telco is investing in three years to June 30 next year to upgrade its mobile network, acquire spectrum and lay the foundations for 5G.
The new centre will enable technology vendors, developers, start-ups and customers to work with the technology. Telstra will conduct 5G field trials in the coming months in and around the Gold Coast. The telco previously completed a 5G field trial and world first 5G outdoor data call over 26GHz ‘mmWave’ radiofrequency spectrum.
“From our 5G Innovation Centre we will be completing a number of 5G first in 2018 to ensure Australia remains at the forefront of mobile technology,” said Telstra chief operations officer, Robyn Denholm.
“5G will take us from a world of connecting people to each other and the internet to a world of ultra-fast mobile speeds and the Internet-of-Things on a mass scale. These enhancements will unleash a host of new opportunities – everything from smart cities and smart homes, to drones and driverless cars, to augmented reality in both entertainment and work,” Denholm said.
She said that drones can operate over 4G today, but when the ultra-high reliability and low latency of 5G becomes available, more sophisticated applications will be possible, such as “drone swarms and autonomous drones” that can communication and adjust behaviour based on real-time data inputs.
Use cases on show on the Gold Coast on Monday included a 5G trial using a moving vehicle to demonstrate how 5G can help deliver an immersive from the driver’s perspective using virtual reality headsets and supporting autonomous driving; how drones enabled with AI can support surf lifesaving and operated on a massive scale using 5G beam forming technology targeting each drone.
Optus last week announced it would launch a 5G fixed wireless service in early 2019 in key metropolitan areas. This follows a trial in January of 5G New Radio at Optus’ Macquarie Park headquarters that delivered speeds of up to 3 gigabytes per second.
Follow Byron Connolly on Twitter: @ByronConnolly